by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
Sheepmeat Council : Sheepmeat 2012
34 SHEEPMEAT COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA ANNUAL MUSTER 2012 National survey of sheep producer biosecurity practices The SHS is the principal tool available nationally to support and protect producers from disease risks during sales and is fundamental to managing the risk of Ovine Johne's disease (OJD). The study was funded by Meat and Livestock Australia and data from this study were used to inform the national review of the ovine Johne's disease program. The study sampled broad acre producers with more than 100 head of sheep, who were identified as the person primarily responsible for animal health management decisions. A nationally-representative sample of 870 sheep producers took part in telephone interviews and the survey was conducted in March 2011. The majority of the sample (92%) was male, 62% were aged 45-64, and over half (54%) were based in New South Wales or Victoria. The mean years of experience in sheep production was 36 years. Around two thirds (67%) of the producers in the study were operating mixed wool and meat enterprises, and 86% were running commercial operations. National survey of sheep producer biosecurity practices, and uptake of the National Sheep Health Statement. A study was conducted to investigate current attitudes and practices of sheep producers towards on-farm biosecurity and sheep health management; with a focus on use of the National Sheep Health Statement (SHS). Biosecurity practices Producers were asked about a range of biosecurity and animal health practices. In general producers tended to report practices that were likely to limit the opportunity for disease through introduction of sheep onto properties. Over half the sample (52%) reported they operated partially-closed flocks; introducing only rams and a further 13% indicated that they ran totally closed/self- sustaining flocks. When asked how producers ensured that the sheep they buy are free from disease, the most frequent response was 'through buying from trusted producers only'. Around two thirds of producers (67%) reported that they generally bought from a single vendor or a small group of trusted vendors. Other ways producers ensured purchase of disease-free sheep were through inspecting them directly, asking for the Sheep Health Statement (SHS), and asking the stock agent to inspect/check for them. Producers were in overwhelming agreement that disease-free status is important for consumer trust. In the survey, producers were asked to report on their on-farm disease management and biosecurity practices. Results from this section are shown in Figure 1. In general, levels of self-reported biosecurity and disease management practices were high, with most producers inspecting sheep before purchase and on arrival and recording all movements on and off farm. The reported frequencies of the remaining management practices were more varied, although mostly were fairly high. Producers were least likely to ask visitors to wash their hands and clean their boots before coming into paddocks or having contact with sheep. Relatively few were unlikely to ensure that equipment brought onto property was clean, to consult a vet if they noticed something unusual or suspected disease, or to quarantine new sheep for 7-10 days. use of the Sheep Health Statement (SHS) Producers reported that the SHS, National Vendor Declaration (NVD), and stock agents were identified as the main way to assure others of the health of their sheep. Producers were asked about their familiarity and knowledge of the SHS, and results are summarised in Table 1. As data in Table 1 show, less than a third of producers (31%) reported high levels of knowledge about the content of the SHS. When asked about use of the SHS this was typically 'all or none' with, very roughly, half of producers using it all the time and half using it none of the time. However, the SHS was regarded favourably by those who were aware of it, with 70% of producers reporting that it was an effective tool for disease management. Agents were identified as particularly influential in producers' use of the SHS, with most producers reporting they were willing to supply or request a SHS if their agent told them to. Barriers to uptake were poor enforcement, lack of awareness and knowledge, and the complexity of completing it. Overall, the study found that uptake of the SHS was highly influenced by State-based